- I took a train trip in Europe with two of my children and it was more enjoyable than flying.
- It allowed us to travel on a budget and spend less time on the go.
- I also knew train travel was going to be better for me, with less stress and more time with my kids.
Growing up, my train-enthusiast father often took me on train rides. I always loved the ease and comfort of traveling by train, mixed with nostalgia for a time when traveling by train was the norm. When I moved away from home, I continued to choose trains over any other form of transportation whenever I had the chance.
After I had children, traveling by train wasn’t always feasible, and I became adept at navigating airports with little ones. Even with experience, it never became easier waiting in long lines to check bags, then waiting even longer — sometimes for hours on end — for our flights to board. Then we had to spend even more hours in cramped seats, unable to get up and pace the aisles when the kids got restless.
I always arrived at our destination frazzled and exhausted, wishing I had taken the train instead.
I tried train travel with my kids
This past summer, I took a spur-of-the-moment trip to Europe with my two youngest children. We had no choice but to fly across the Atlantic, but I was hoping to use trains to get around once we landed. A jet-setting friend suggested flying between our two main destinations, London and Paris, because flights were affordable.
I didn’t have an unlimited budget, so I started looking for flights but dreaded looking at fares, knowing I would have to deal with more airports than were strictly necessary for this trip. Traveling alone in a foreign country with two young kids is hard enough, and anything that could make my trip easier was worth exploring.
I decided my sanity was worth more than a couple of hundred dollars. Even though flight times were shorter than the trip by train, overall travel time taking flights would have been much longer. We would have needed to have arrived at the airport a couple of hours before our flights, and we would have spent much longer getting to airports far from the city centers.
Getting to and from the airports would have been much more expensive than taking the metro to the centrally located train stations, so the cost gap wasn’t as great as it seemed. Not to mention, I probably would have spent a small fortune on snacks while we waited at the airport with nothing to do.
My stress was lower with train travel
However, the biggest factor in choosing trains over flights was my own sanity and desire to enjoy my vacation. I had a limited amount of time to explore Europe with my children and wanted to make the most of it. Since train travel for me is much more relaxing, I knew I would have more energy to actually enjoy myself instead of needing to decompress from the stressful experience of flying.
I knew my kids would be in a better mood, too. They wouldn’t need to spend hours bored in an airport. They could comfortably rest in larger seats during the journey and get up for a quick walk whenever they needed to stretch their legs. We would all be happier and could spend more time exploring.
I always thought of train rides as an experience, and this trip was no different. My children and I gazed at the beautiful French and English countryside as we moved from one destination to the next. We caught glimpses of sights and towns we would never have seen otherwise, and certainly not from a plane. This particular train ride had the added benefit of taking us deep under the English Channel, which added more excitement and wonder to the trip.
Choosing the train over less expensive flights was the right choice for my family, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.